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Posts Tagged ‘Sweatshops

Magic Fans are Dumb Pricks

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Did the title get your attention? It was supposed to. Let me clarify something here; I do not have a problem with all or even most Magic fans. I do not specifically hate Magic fans as opposed to other basketball team’s fans, I just happen to live in Orlando, and we just happen to be the finals. I have been to Magic games and cheered for them, but my recent experiences with Magic fans have been anything but pleasant.

Recently a small contingent of United Students Against Sweatshops have come to Orlando to raise awareness of the NBA’s deal with notorious sweatshop exploiter Russel Corporation. Obviously the most influential constituency in getting the NBA to renounce sweatshop labor would be basketball fans. I think you can see where this is going.

I joined the USAS with my friends from the University of Central Florida Student Labor Action Project (UCF SLAP) to hand out fliers to people going to the Magic game last Sunday. It was perhaps one of the most depressing, if not the most depressing demonstration I have ever been involved in. In less than two hours I received a powerful lesson in some of the most troubling ailments of American democracy.

Orlando is already a very inhospitable place for activism of any sort, and is not only where people come to die, but where culture dies as well. About 30% of the population of Orange county (Orlando, Florida’s enveloping county) moves within one year, so in addition to the elderly migrants there are plenty of younger people who don’t care about the community around them as well. Too many people seem to come to Florida for the two reasons Tiger Woods claims to have, virtually no taxes and golf. Why care about the decay of society around them, they can afford to play golf!

It was already depressing that one of the last outposts of civic society is a basketball stadium. And while there is nothing wrong with a basketball stadium, they certainly shouldn’t be replacements for the town square. Yet in a town as spread out, suburbanized, and stucco scorched as Orlando, the Amway (*gag*) stadium was the last place to make contact with other people. Not that anyone wanted to make contact with us!

I understand that people came to the stadium to watch a basketball game, and its not like I feel like they had to pay attention to us. I might morn the passage of democratic responsibility and civic space, but the benefit of the town square was that you were simply exposed to politics and culture, not forced to participate. What bothered me was the open disdain people had for us, when all we were doing was handing out fliers. Not engaging people in conversation, simply offering a small sheet of paper to passerbys. It was already noxious enough that the last recourse of civic culture was a basketball stadium, I didn’t need snide douchebags passing by and making jokes about protesting sweatshops.

I could have probably tolerated just that, but there was something even more hideous. We had to be quarantined in an area away from the stadium, because the stadium was Amway property. It might not sound like something to be upset about, its their property right? Wrong!

Recently Orlando’s bumbling city council lead by the fat fool (who’s neck blinks more than his eyes do) “Buddy” Dyer made a giant investment into building a new arena for the Orlando Magic with tax payer money. Because instead of the myriad other potential uses for our money, apparently it was far more important to spend upwards of 500 million dollars to build a new stadium to replace one that is barely twenty years old for a billionaire who runs a corporate pyramid scheme. Out of the total cost of the stadium, the Magic have only ponied up at most 70 million, less than 15 percent of the upfront cost of 480 million. In addition, the billionaire owner of the Magic, Rich “Douchebag” DeVos, used the stadium as a protest venue for a group promoting the gay marriage ban (you can read more about all this in Dave Zirin’s excellent article “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lakers”)!

If Orlando’s citizens are going to pay upwards of 85% of the costs of the Amway (*gag*) stadium, it should be a public facility. If DeVos wants his own stadium he can pay out of his 4.4 billion he happens to have, otherwise he should be happy that we let his team play there, much less placing his wretched company’s name on it. There is no defense of his ownership of a stadium he did not pay for, he should not be allowed to host demonstrations against gay marriage when we cannot protest sweatshops on what is at least 85% ours! I think Orlando citizens and Magic fans should be appalled. its one thing for an elected city government to build a basketball stadium, its quite another to give away our tax money to a billionaire and let him use public land to advocate his hateful brand of right wing politics. Are we going to take this lying down? I hope not!

Written by jackofspades83

June 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm